Elections to UN Human Rights Council Send Shameful Message to Victims
May 13, 2010
Freedom House is extremely disappointed by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to elect conspicuously unqualified candidates—including Libya—in today’s Human Rights Council elections.
In a secret ballot of all members of the UN General Assembly, each of the 14 candidates received the necessary 97 affirmative votes to win seats on the Council. According to a recently released report by Freedom House and UN Watch, five of the candidates are considered "not qualified" due to sub-par human rights records at home and poor voting records in UN venues on serious human rights violations: Libya, Mauritania, Malaysia, Qatar and Angola.
"These elections are a slap in the face to victims of human rights abuses around the world," said Paula Schriefer, advocacy director of Freedom House. "The new process, instituted in 2006, was meant to improve the composition of the UN human rights body, but instead, we are again seeing uncompetitive elections in which the perpetrators of systemic human rights abuses take seats in a body they seek only to subvert and they do so with the shameful blessing of the General Assembly.”
Only 14 candidates presented themselves for the 14 available seats, as within each of the UN’s five regional groups—Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Western Europe and Others—the number of candidates was equal to the number of available seats according to the Council’s membership procedures. Despite the lack of competition, Freedom House and other human rights groups urged the UN member states to abide by the mandate in the Council’s founding resolution by only electing states that “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” and voting against Libya and other “unqualified” candidates.
According to the report, of the 14 candidates that presented in the election, only five were considered to be "qualified" to serve on the Council, including Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Guatemala and Maldives. Additionally, four candidates are identified as having "questionable" records, including Moldova, Ecuador, Uganda and Thailand. Nonetheless, all candidates were easily elected, with Libya receiving lowest number of votes at 155.
“It shocks the conscience that a mere 37 out of 192 UN member states demonstrated the willingness to stand up for human rights victims by voting against one of the world’s most repressive regimes,” Schriefer continued. “The regional groups and the entire membership of the GA are playing into the hands of oppressors by their acquiescence to the routine of “clean” election slates. We call on the United States and other democracies to show leadership by pushing strongly for competitive elections in which champions of human rights outnumber and outcompete the world’s abusers.”
To view a copy of the report, click here.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.